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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Some time ago, I was asked by a devotional polytheist what "Jungian polytheism" is.  In this post, I'm going to try to answer that question without all the psychological jargon and Jung quotes that I usually fall back on.

For me, being Pagan means that I find the divine (1) in myself and (2) in the world around me. These are two aspects of my Paganism that I struggle to bring together: the Self-centric Paganism and the earth-centric Paganism. Anyway, "Jungian polytheism" is (mostly) part of the former, the part of my religion that locates the divine in myself. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

"Don't mix pantheons."  I hear this frequently in Pagan circles.  I have heard it for as long as I have been Pagan.  And I've never heard it challenged.  The idea is that we aren't supposed to invoke Kali and Loki in the same ritual, for example, or Zeus and Odin, or ... pick two any deities from any two pantheons.

This injunction is often made by hard polytheists, but is made by some soft-polytheists too.  Often they are quite open about their disdain for those who mix pantheons.  It is seen as a form of immaturity or ignorance.  Others see it as a sign of disrespect.  I hear this no-mixing-pantheons talk so often, it seems it must happen a lot, so I wonder why all the pantheon-mixers aren't speaking up in their defense.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Here's what I might say about the subject. I love Thai food. I mean I really love Thai food. I also love the experience of Thai f
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I took a college class on the History of the Ancient Near East. I remember the teacher telling about a king of Babylon sending a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wolf Law

I'm a storyteller, so in the natural course of things I often find myself telling stories about the gods.

Yikes.

Incest. Murder. Sexual Coercion. To name only some. All the things you're not supposed to do.

The Church Fathers made much of the immorality of the pagan gods. (Considering how their god is said to behave, this strikes me as pretty damned chutzpadik.) But it's no real surprise to hear that the Church Fathers didn't understand gods, not even their own.

They're gods, in another category of being. They don't operate according to human law. They have their own.

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"It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living god."

-- Hebrews 10:3

Recently, Pan-devotee Jason Mankey stirred some pots by asking whether the current interest of many Pagans in the Morrigan is "just a fad." Jason, who is himself a polytheist, was not suggesting that the Morrigan is not real. After all, he admits, his own patron deity, Pan, was once a "fad" circa 1800-1920. But, nevertheless, the word "fad" is a provocative term. morriganMorpheus Ravenna, herself a devotee of the Morrigan, responded that the use of the word "fad" in this context is dismissive and direspectful. More importantly, she says, it's shallow:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do We Know the Number of the Gods?

 

It would be rash to say that we do. One should be content with a reasonable number.” 

 

Ezra Pound, “Religion: Or the Child's Guide to Knowledge”

1885-1972

In Memoriam

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
From: The Book of Pagan Proverbs

 “The gods rarely speak to those who are too busy to listen.” 

Mary Renault

(1905-1983)

In Memoriam

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Existentialism Part 2: Choosing Faith

I had been able to confidently say the gods are real because I could feel them as well as I felt other humans and animals. Then, suddenly, I couldn't feel them. Not the gods, and not other people. Not animals, not nature, nothing. This is how it happened:

Trigger warnings: physical health and mental health issues, mention of childhood abuse

It was 1997. I had a life-threatening medical problem, and was given a medicine which included in its listed side effects weight gain and depression. I gained 60 lbs. in 3 months, and I became depressed in an equally rapid and thorough manner. When I switched to a different medicine, I stopped gaining weight, but the weight I already had gained did not just disappear, it was still there. The same was true of the depression. It was still there, and I had to deal with it. 

For me, depression meant not being able to feel the presence of other minds, not the gods, and not other people. Nothing felt real. All the color leached out of the universe. Clear skies were gray, and sunsets were gray, and chocolate was ashes. I was cut off from sensation and physical pleasure.  I started having flashbacks to childhood experiences of sexual abuse. 

None of the medicines I tried got my medical problem under control, I was constantly in danger of death, was in constant pain, sometimes was too disabled to leave my house, I could not work, and had to close my bookstore.

I tried everything I could think of help with both the physical and mental issues, including magic. I called on the healer goddess Eir, not knowing at the time that calling on her would provoke a healing crisis. That meant things would seem to get worse before they got better.

My insurance company canceled my policy, and when I looked for help dealing with the depression and flashbacks, I was going bankrupt and could not access for-profit doctors and ended up having to seek help from the state mental health system, which treated me so badly that in addition to my original problems I developed additional ones. The state doctor prescribed an SSRI antidepressant, which relieved fatigue and gave me enough energy to get things done despite still being depressed, and still being physically ill as well. In that time period, SSRIs did not yet list suicidal ideation as a known side effect. Eventually I found better help; I talk about my healing journey in my memoir, so readers interested in the details are directed to that book. 

In the meantime, I had an experience that I was convinced should have killed me and that my body's sudden, odd resilience was uncanny.

A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts: My Triumph Over Dissociative Identity Disorder:

     "In the days that followed, as I thought about the strange happening, I realized that I had to decide to what I would attribute it:  failure or miracle.  I chose miracle.  I told myself, “Goddess won’t let me die.”

     I still could not feel her presence.  But I chose to believe she was there.  For the first time in my life, I had true faith."

That was a major turning point in my life, and on my heathen path. Eventually, my ability to sense the gods and other people returned, but not until I healed myself with the help of a therapist. I had to get rid of the depression, and the flashbacks, and the panic, and become whole, before I could advance any farther spiritually. When I started being able to feel the presence of the gods again, I felt them more clearly than ever before. But if I had not experienced that, I would never have developed faith, because faith is the choice to believe in the absence of evidence, and until then, I had always had the evidence of my senses.

How we interpret the events of our lives is a choice, just like the existential choice of choosing whether to believe other people, the gods, and our own sensory lived experiences are real. I consciously chose my personal narrative of these events, and I chose this: Freya saved my life.

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